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Roger Clemens Indicted for Perjury, Obstruction

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on August 19, 2010 3:11 PM

A grand jury has indicted former pitching star Roger Clemens for making false statements to Congress. In February of 2008, Clemens testified under oath before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and denied that he had ever used performance enhancing drugs. Those statements were contradicted by his former trainer, Brian McNamee.

On August 19, those contradictions came home to roost for Clemens. According to the New York Daily News, after long-running DOJ investigation, a Washington D.C. grand jury has been hearing testimony from witnesses for the past 18 months. Among the witnesses before the grand jury was Jose Canseco, the man who helped propel the congressional inquiries on steroid use in baseball.

According to the Daily News, among the evidence presented to the grand jury were used needles and bloody gauze that contained Clemens' genetic material fortuitously saved by McNamee in his basement. He turned the evidence over to prosecutors just after the congressional testimony.

Clemens is facing charges of obstruction of justice, making false statements to Congress and perjury. The crime of perjury can be found under both state and federal law, but in this case, it is more likely to be prosecuted as a federal violation. The federal statue describes the act simply as when one "willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true." It may be hard for Clemens to balance his statements to Congress against a parade of witnesses, needles and bloodied gauze. However, as is noted by Sports Illustrated, a grand jury indictment is not a criminal conviction and the prosecutors still have a long way to go before they can prove perjury and the other charges to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

After the years it has taken to review the evidence in this case before the grand jury, the government is clearly committed to seeing the case through. "Our government cannot function if witnesses are not held accountable for false statements made before Congress," said United States Attorney Ronald Machen. "Today the message is clear: If a witness makes a choice to ignore his or her obligation to testify honestly, there will be consequences."

For his part, the Daily News writes, Clemens denied the claims of drug use before Congress 2008 and was still denying them last year, when he broke his silence to interview on ESPN's "Mike and Mike."

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